Grossed out by group work

Q: I am a female in my 20s and will soon be marrying my boyfriend of four years. We met overseas via a personals site, and while most things are great between us, we do have one issue: group sex. He wants it, I don’t.

After we met, my fiancé brought up the idea of group sex, and when I agreed (though not wholeheartedly, I agreed to see what it was like) he was very proactive about putting up a personal ad to meet other couples. We met a couple or two. While I was OK with the encounters at the time, a day or so after I was always kind of grossed-out. We have since moved back to the U.S., and his interest in group sex has not abated. I agreed to try group sex again, which we did — and again, I was fine during, but skeeved after. He knows how I feel now, but I think he keeps hoping that I’ll change my mind. Likewise, I keep hoping that he’ll lose interest at some point.

Part of the issue is that while he did experiment with a couple of guys and girls before we met, I was (and am) his first and only penetrative sex partner. He also spends a lot of time online, which has led him to believe that many people have group sex and that it is a relatively normal thing to do. At the time we met, I was portraying (and thinking of) myself as a wild bisexual, but have since proved myself to be anything but. I feel bad about "false advertising," but I feel that I have "grown up" and out of the need to explore my sexuality. I feel that I’ve found someone with whom I am completely happy and by whom I am completely sexually satisfied.

Every so often, he’ll catch me at a time when I think that it won’t be so bad, and I’ll tell him that we can try the group sex thing again, but after he’s placed the ad and has started to get back responses, my pendulum has swung back in the opposite direction. I don’t want to have sex with these people; I just want to have sex with him. At the same time, I want to want to have sex with these people. Do you think that there’s any chance that it will ever happen? —Want To Want Group Sex

A: First off, WTWGS, the online popularity of a particular sex act or fetish is irrelevant where an individual’s kinks are concerned. It’s not as if people sit at home in front of their computers and wait for a kink to win a national popularity contest before they adopt it. ("Hey, honey! Infantilism won America’s Next Top Fetish! Break out the Pampers!") So let’s be clear: Your fiancé sought out group sex on the Internet because he was into group sex, WTWGS, rather than developing a thing for group sex after seeing how popular it was online.

As for how common group sex is in the real world, well, that’s hard to say. If I had to hazard a guess I’d say it’s more common than some might think and less common than some might like. Until the national census includes a "Do you swing/engage in group sex/swap partners/get into cuckolding" question, more reliable data is going to be hard to come by. But there is one hard number I can share with you, WTWGS: 100 percent of the men you’re engaged to are into group sex.

But I don’t need to tell you that, right? Your fiancé made that quite clear to you all along. So while it’s wonderful that you’ve found someone by whom you’re completely sexually satisfied, WTWGS, it’s too bad your fiancé can’t say the same.

Which brings us to the false-advertising issue. He was up-front about his desires and his need to be with someone who was at least as sexually adventurous as he is. (He deserves credit for being so up-front; some men would have married you first and asked questions about group sex later.) You presented yourself to him as the sexually adventurous girl he had been looking for — you were the wild bisexual, the woman who, if she didn’t quite share his passion for group sex, was at least open to group sex. If you’re not that kind of woman — or not that kind of woman anymore — then you need to spell that out before the wedding. If marrying you means never having group sex again, he needs to know that now. He may counter with, "But being with me means having group sex!" If things reach that impasse, WTWGS, then perhaps you shouldn’t marry each other.

As for learning to want it, well, there’s one way to do that: Will yourself to get over those skeeved-out feelings. You may be done exploring, but the man you love may never be done exploring. Go along with him on his explorations (which, as they don’t seem to involve penetrative sex with others, sound pretty damn safe), and learn to love his kinks as much as you love him. And if that’s simply not possible — and I’m not saying it would be easy or even advisable — then, well, reread the previous paragraph.

Q: I am a 21-year-old male in a two-year relationship with a 20-year-old girl. The first year we dated we were living in the same city, but now we live an hour apart. My girlfriend comes up to visit me almost every weekend, and I visit her every once in a while. Up until three or four months ago we had a very healthy sex life. Now we barely have sex. She claims that it’s not that she doesn’t want me, but every time I come on to her or mention doing anything sexual, even just making out, she declines. She’s tired or needs to study. She says stuff like, "We will do it tomorrow morning/tonight/when we get back from the store," but when the time comes she has no interest.

I don’t know if she’s just no longer sexually interested in me or what. I know that she loves me, and she tells me she thinks I’m very attractive. We used to have sex a couple of times a day. Now I’m lucky if I get it once or twice a month. I love her very much and don’t want to lose her over this, but I can feel it already coming between us. —Hopeless And Konfused

A: She isn’t into you anymore, she’s seeing someone else, or she isn’t into you anymore and she’s seeing someone else. So why doesn’t she dump you? Because she’s trying to let you down easy, HAK. Your girlfriend, being young and stupid, doesn’t realize that a long, drawn-out period of constant, low-level rejection — we’ll do it later, I’m still attracted to you, you still turn me on — only makes the ultimate, unavoidable pain of total rejection worse.

It’s a mistake that a lot of people make when they’re young, HAK: We worry that the boyfriend or girlfriend we want to be rid of will be devastated when we leave, so we string ’em along, making ourselves (and our bodies) less available to them, in a futile attempt to gradually wean them from our irreplaceable selves. When we finally do get around to dumping them, the hurt of being broken up with is compounded by the humiliation of having been made a fool of.

In other words, HAK, it’s over. Your girlfriend doesn’t have the decency to end it honestly, but you can have the self-respect to end it yourself. Send letters to

About The Author

Dan Savage

Dan Savage is a sex-advice columnist, podcaster, and author, and has appeared on numerous television shows. His sex advice column “Savage Love” first appeared in The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly, in 1991. The column is now syndicated across the United States and Canada. He has published six books...
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